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How to Use Bare-Metal Foil
(It's Really Quite Easy!)

By Dennis Doty

Introduction - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

Click here to view the "How to use Bare-Metal® Foil" as a slideshow


I have worked with Bare-Metal Foil since the mid-1970s. As a model car builder who could never paint the chrome trim on a model and come up with anything but a mess, Bare-Metal Foil was a true miracle product. Nothing can ruin a great looking model car faster than scrawled painted-on chrome trim. I mentioned my problem painting chrome trim to a hobby storeowner in the Detroit area and he clued me in to a product he said would solve all my problems.

He gave me the phone number of the Bare-Metal Foil and Eldred Mason. So I called Eldred and he told me about the virtues of Bare-Metal Foil, I have to admit to being skeptical. No product could do all he claimed and be that good. However, after using Bare-Metal Foil in my first "how-to" article that ran in the April 1975 issue of Car Classics magazine I found that Eldred did not exaggerate the virtues of his product. Bare-Metal Foil was as good as he stated, maybe even better!

Bare-Metal Foil was not difficult to use, and with great success on my first project, I would say practice just makes it all easier. It is very important to prepare the surface to be covered with the Foil because if there is even the tiniest imperfection, covering it with Bare-Metal Foil will only accent it. This Foil hides nothing. Before applying Bare-Metal Foil wipe the area with a cloth dipped in sudsy water. I use regular dish washing liquid, in an old plastic jar lid. This removes any oils from handling and allows the Foil to adhere better. If you have painted the model and there is any orange peel, it will show through the Foil and ruin the effect. If your paint jobs are not the best when using enamels, you should Foil the model twice, the first time before painting. Once the paint is dry, cut around the Foil you applied to the raw plastic with a sharp #11 X-acto style blade. Remove the earlier Foil, and then reapply new Foil as described. For lacquer finishes, rub the paint job out smooth before applying the Bare-Metal Foil, and before you wax the model.

Just about any model builder will already have the basic tools needed to apply Bare-Metal Foil to a model. The basic tools are, two #1 style hobby knives with the popular #11 style blades. The two knives are necessary for trimming the Foil from around the moldings. You'll need a sharp blade, either a new blade, or one freshly honed to like new (or better). The second knife can have a bit duller blade as this is used to cut the Foil from its backing. This extra cutting would quickly dull a blade used for both purposes. Even this second blade can't be too dull because a dull blade won't cut the Foil, it will just tear it. You should also have a straight edge of some kind when cutting longer strips from the backing sheet. I use a 6" metal ruler. Needle nose tweezers may not be a necessity, but they will help you lift the Foil from the backing and it makes it easier to position the Foil on the model. The kitchen will hopefully provide the other "tools" needed, round and flat toothpicks. Make sure the round toothpicks are truly round. Some brilliant companies are now selling "round" toothpicks that are square! The flat toothpick will need to be modified to allow it to get into any tight areas you may be covering.

Bare-Metal Foil cuts easily once in place. When trimming the excess Foil from around the moldings, use a light touch on the knife. A sharp blade needs little pressure beyond the weight of the knife to cut through the Foil. Too much pressure and you risk chipping the paint, or slipping and ruining the job, maybe the model, and maybe a finger or thumb that may be in the way of the slicing blade! Lifting the excess Foil after the trimming is usually no problem, just grip a loose end with the tweezers and carefully pull. Don't pull quickly because if the blade didn't cut all the way through the Foil, you will pull up the work. If some areas haven't been cut through, get the Foil in firm contact with the trim piece again, and make the cut again. In stubborn cases, it may be difficult to get the tweezers under the Foil. When this happens, use the chisel end of the flat toothpick to pull up one end of the excess Foil so the tweezers can get a grip. Once the excess Foil is removed, go over the cut with the flat toothpick to insure the Foil is in tight contact with the trim piece. Then burnish the Foil with a soft cloth, which not only gets the Foil in even better contact, but also removes any adhesive residue that may have been left behind.

It should also be mentioned that Bare-Metal Foil is one of the best products you could ever use for masking. Certainly not the cheapest, but the best! When painting two-tone model cars, Bare-Metal Foil will give you a great hard edge that is nearly impossible to get with any other masking mediums I have used. When masking side trim for a two-tone effect, cover the trim piece with Bare-Metal Foil, trim it to the top of the molding, then mask off the lower part of the body with cheap masking tape and paper (if you are painting the top of the model car first). Once this first color has dried a bit very carefully run the blade over the trim piece to insure a sharp line, with no chance that removing the Foil and masking will lift some of the paint. Once the first color has dried, apply Bare-Metal Foil to the trim again, but this time cut it on the bottom of the molding, mask the top off and paint the lower color. Repeat the above steps for removing the masking when you can. By masking the trim line as described, there should be no paint on the trim, and this will give you a better looking model as a coat or two of paint can take the crispness off a trim piece.

For model cars, I just paint the headliners to cover the Bare-Metal Foil on the underside of the roof. The Foil is so thin; it isn't noticed on a shelf model. I do make sure there is enough Foil to cover the inside of the vent windows, then just carefully paint around these. That will not do for a contest quality model. In these cases, check to see if the inside moldings are visible on the interior of the car. If they are, you will likely have to apply more Foil on the inside to duplicate these interior moldings. Here things like the headliner should be painted before you apply the Bare-Metal Foil trim around the window moldings. For a shelf model, painting over the excess Bare-Metal Foil hides it well, but for contests, you will have to do more.

Introduction - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

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